DNA from an Egyptian baboon mummy has helped unlock the mystery of a lost ancient city.
A new study that closely examined the DNA revealed that the ancient Egyptians likely traded with a city in what is now coastal Eritrea.
Eritrea is a country in East Africa and may be home to an ancient, lost city called Punt the study.
The mysterious city may explain how baboons ended up in Egypt, as they are not believed to have originated there.
Geneticist Gisela Kopp led the new study.
she said Live Science: “There were these stories that they got them from Punt, this fabled, mysterious land.”
A city called Punt was mentioned in Egyptian texts but was never shown on a map.
The DNA recovered from the baboon mummies is believed to be the first clear evidence of Punt’s existence.
The mummies date from between 1550 BC. and 1070 BC. BC
Baboons were popular in Egypt at the time and were often sacrificed to the gods.
The DNA helped pinpoint a specific geographical location of the monkeys’ origins.
The researchers wrote in their study: “This result, assuming geographical stability of phylogenetic clades, confirms the Greco-Roman historiographies by pointing to present-day Eritrea, and thus Adulis, as a baboon source for the Late Period Egyptians.”
“It also establishes geographical continuity with baboons from the fabled land of Punt and gives rise to speculation that Punt and Adulis were essentially the same trading centers, separated by thousands of years of history.”
Of the ten baboons used in the study, only one baboon mummy was able to provide suitable DNA for testing.
It was comparable to today’s baboons in Eritrea.
Punt is believed to be close to a better-known ancient port called Adulis.
Ancient texts record Egyptians going to Adulis to trade goods.
The researchers believe that Punt may have been located in a similar area to the site where Adulis was later built.